By Jodie Roberts
Your always asked the same question when your young. What do you want to be when your older? The answers usually resemble occupations such as a fireman, a vet, or you get the occasional spaceman.However you’re never asked how you propose to make your dreams happen.
Higher education has always been a topic of speculation. The increase in University tuition fees created an uproar throughout Britain. This announcement caused a series of student protests in London urging the government not to raise tuition fees as this would increase the debt for students. Simultaneously, a subject in parallel to this is the severe unemployment that lurks over Britain. Unemployment stands at 2.53 million in the UK in 2012.
Under a new policy established by the government consequences were the raise in tuition fees. Universities throughout England are now approved to charge up to £9,000 per year per student. Which is a staggering £6,000 increase from 2010/11. Totalling up to £27,000 to undertake a 3 year course at university (which is the usual course length). This is along side Student Finance which is there to help students pay for living costs and student accommodation. However adding up to the total debt accumulated.
However a fact that most headlines stress about this debt they don’t talk about how much money actually has to be paid back. If when you graduate you happen to find a job, unless that job is paying you more than £21,000 per year you don’t have to pay back a penny.
Stereo-typically we start our University journey after sixth form at the age of 18- after our A-levels- the daunting figures of £9,000 per year can be very off putting. Ucas published in November of 2012 university applicant statistics and to no surprise figures from 2011 were considerably higher when compared to the applicant figures of the recent academic year.Which highlights the facts that nobody has really explained the the confusion around the debt students will be getting themselves into.
The significant drop in applications brings up a recurring question, what path have they chosen?
Colleges/Schools throughout the UK now offer alternatives to higher education by means of scholarships and apprenticeships this is a great alternative for young students who would like a change. Nursery Nurse Leah Burdall, 19 commented opportunities and her reasoning for not going to university- “Because it wasn’t really for me.. Didn’t fancy going back to a classroom.” Showing how university just isn’t for everybody.
The British Army also offer an alternative as they propose excellent education for free. More young students have now chosen to apply for Army jobs and apprenticeships when given the option to apply for university John Todd commented “but would not leave the army to do any other education as in the army its free”.
This alternative allows the young person to earn money and learn for free. Which is a lot more inviting given the current unemployment issues that Britain has.
I interviewed younger members of the army about their reasoning for joining. I wanted to know whether having no job prospects or cheap education options were underlying factors or not.
Serving corporal John Todd, 23 tells me “Nope could of gone to college or got a job like most my friends, but decided to join straight from school”. The minimum recruitment age for the British Army is 16 – straight after GCSE completion. After 2 years of training the young person will have met the minimum age requirement to be deployed. During this time the young person is able to undertake education and complete training required.
The British Army website states ‘ The Army is committed to ensuring that soldiers have the training and skills required for promotion.’ Meaning young people who sign up have the opportunity to better themselves by means of education and be paid to do so.
John Todd comments “I have got my level 1 Maths, English through the army, but would not leave the army to do any other education as in the army its free”.
Lance Corporal Christopher Allen, 19 tells me ” I joined because I would not have been able to stand doing a dead-end, pointless job in which I wouldn’t be worth anything to the world. ” However in terms of higher education Christopher Allen comments ” it’s something I am interested in and in fact to undertake next year. The Army has a system -‘Advanced Leaning Credits’, I’m using mine to contribute towards taking an open university degree.”
So the million pound question stands is university worth it? Yes and No. Higher education isn’t for everyone. Yes the daunting figures are off putting but it didn’t stop people applying this year, I am a university student and love it. In other cases like John Todd, Christopher Allen and Leah Burdall university wasn’t as inviting for them,everybody is different. What will you decide?